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Original Issue

Model Athletes

People write to us and complain that supermodels have no place
in a sports magazine. But when you really look at it,
supermodels and athletes are almost identical.

Tell me you're not serious.


Tell me you're not going to try and convince us that supermodels
are athletes.

All I'm saying is that supermodels are amazingly similar to
athletes. For instance, both are genetic freaks. How many men
are 7'1", 335 pounds like Shaq? How many women are 6 feet, 125
pounds like Elle McPherson? Both have limited careers. Both
retire at about the same time--mid-30s--and for the same reason:
Their bodies can no longer compete. They probably said the same
thing to Cheryl Tiegs that they did to Joe Namath: "Time to hang
up the panty hose, babe."

How many of these comparisons do you have?

Lots. Both put their bodies on the line every time they suit up.


They do! On one shoot Christie Brinkley got stuck on top of a
spinnaker, 40 feet in the air, and had to jump! You ever hear of
Mark McGwire jumping from a spinnaker?

You ever hear of Christie Brinkley facing Randy Johnson?

Both suffer untold injuries and both must play with pain.


They do! Malia Jones, the world-class surfer and supermodel, has
miles of scars on her body. She has this nasty one on her knee,
and I said, "Where'd you get that, surfing the barrel at
Molokai?" She said, "That one? Modeling in Barbados. I fell
through this pedestal they had me on. Had to go to the emergency
room." There were a bunch of scars on her ankles, too. I said,
"Nasty wipeouts into coral? Shark bites?" She said, "Those are
from walking Paris runways in high heels." To this day Christie
has back pain from all those years of arching for your
fantasies. Isn't that similar to the way Johnny Unitas can no
longer use his right hand?

I think I'm going to be sick.

Both the athlete and the supermodel make it look easy.

Supermodeling is easy. You come out of the womb with long blonde
hair and cherry-red lips, and the rest is tofu and residual

Both can change a young man's life. For instance, Joe Montana's
lob to Dwight Clark's fingernails is etched forever on our
retinas. So too is Cheryl Tiegs's blood-stopping fishnet
swimsuit picture in SI in 1978.

How many of these do you have? Because I've got to rotate my

If pressed, both would do their jobs for next to nothing.
Michael Jordan has said he would play for free. Supermodels for
the SI shoot get a puny $350 per day, plus expenses. Often, they
leave the SI shoot and head to an ad shoot that pays them
$20,000 a day.

You know this is beneath you.

Is not. Both are drippingly wealthy and yet are slaves to the
whims of coaches/photographers. SI supermodels have been made to
perch on top of motorcycles, trucks, Rovers, bicycles, tree
limbs, elephants, picnic blankets, lava rock, white stallions,
porcelain tigers and giant pieces of driftwood. They've been
told to look dreamy standing next to penguins, cacti, burros,
snakes, monkeys, tribesmen, naked running boys, seagulls,
barrels of fruit, live fish, dead fish, Maasai warriors, pool
cues, cages and inflatable sharks.

How many models did you bother for this?

Lots, but it was a labor of love. Both models and athletes work
odd hours, under bright lights, often wearing extra padding, all
to win the admiration of beer-drinking men. Finally, both are
the world's royalty--superstars and supermodels--and, as such,
can only look to each other for the properly regal mate. Think
of the great couples, and they're usually supermodel and
athlete. Cheryl Tiegs and Vitas Gerulaitis. Brigitte Nielsen and
Mark Gastineau. Rony Seikaly and Elsa Benitez.

Rony Seikaly is regal?

And, of course, the two who could achieve evolutionary checkmate,
Tiger and Tyra.

Couldn't you have just written the usual swimsuit story about
some one-legged cricket player who lives on the island where
they did the shoot?

Yeah, but then I wouldn't have gotten messages on my machine
from Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Heidi Klum.

Which you saved and play for your buddies.

Only if they come to the safe deposit box.